Are Manners in Online Groups Passé?

So my Dad sent me this the other day and it came just after I had taken my first look around a nonfiction readers group on Facebook I had just found and, man, did it resonate. It got me wondering… Are manners in online groups a thing of the past?

manners in online groups
I’m linking to the poster’s IG profile because I don’t have Twitter.

My dad is right, it applies to just about everything. I’ve had a thought stirring around in my head ever since I’ve decided I should set it all out in words and share it here to see what you guys think.

I’ve been known to be a bit…sensitive and reactionary, and that can get me into trouble. Lately, I’ve been practicing a bit of peace and reminding myself that just because it hurts my feelings, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And just because some people are a bit insensitive, doesn’t mean they hate me.

An even shorter version might read, “It’s not all about you, Michelle. Take it easy.”

What happened? Sarcasm and judgement.

Like I said yesterday, I’ve decided that in-person book clubs aren’t a “Hell, yes!” for me right now, so I’ve quit looking for one. But I do like to talk about books, and I’d really like to get more recommendations that aren’t directly related to what I’m already reading, so I kept looking for places to go.

That’s when the Facebook group came up. I haven’t joined any of those in a while because no matter what the subject, they can get so dang hostile so quickly. Yikes-aroni, people! Do you act like that in person?!

And then the first time I opened this group page after joining, I found people’s “laugh react” and sarcastic comments regarding other member’s reading choices rather discouraging. Should I post what I’m reading? What if they get hostile about that? How will I respond?

I know a lot of you are thinking, “Who cares what they think?!” I’m sorry, I do. Would you walk into a party knowing that the people around you most likely will call you an idiot for what you’re wearing or your choice in partner?

But that leads me to manners, and back to the post my dad shared with me. That’s what seems to be missing in the world lately. What happened to “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all?”

What I’d love to ask the group is, “If you were in a library, a bookstore, or a reader’s group in person, would you talk to people this way?” Say you’re walking through the bookstore, and you see a person reading over the back cover of a book you don’t agree with. Would you turn to chastise them about considering what it has to say or just keep walking?

If you were at a book club meeting and someone suggested a book for the following month that you weren’t politically aligned with. Would you smirk and laugh at them, and ask why kind of an idiot reads that kind of crap, or kindly suggest something else?

I thought the point of reading books was to learn other people’s points of view, other ideas. And here I am, in a “serious nonfiction readers” group, hearing people publicly ridicule another’s choice of reading.

It’s more than discouraging. We all have our own tastes, our own likes and dislikes. We all have our own reasons for what we do. It has nothing to do with you, so why do you need to be disparaging to others? When I see things that I don’t like, I simply scroll on by. It’s not for me.


It’s things like this that make me sad. It’s why I’m not all that keen on meeting people in person these days. And I so want to be among people. The whole idea of sharing thoughts and ideas in real time, face to face, sounds so wonderful, but I’m afraid it’s only a fantasy.

One comment

  1. I honestly do not know what it gives anyone to criticize what another is reading. What business is it of theirs? If someone loves Harlequin romance, so what? You’re not obliged to read the same thing. My goodness. There are so many genres out there; everyone is bound to find something they like.
    I just finished beta reading a book that I would otherwise not pick up. It’s okay – how else do we broaden our horizons?
    As for you caring what others think – ya’all gotta work on that one 😉 If you enter a party where people laugh at how you are dressed, I should think these are not the types of people you’d want to spend any time with in the first place… 😉

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